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Brock told the Witness he recently found the first demographic study of the area he obtained from the North American Mission Board in May 2007. The “center of that report was less than a quarter of a mile from the church,” he noted. Last fall, the pastor said a mapping program revealed that most who attend Heritage live in Fruitland Park.
The news of Fruitland Park’s gift to Heritage has “created a lot of stir in the community,” Brock said.
“When God shows up and does something news travels fast,” he said. “This story of sacrifice and love is spreading and people are asking lots of questions and are excited.”
Brock believes God will use the story to encourage other churches that are “courageous enough to look hard at the legacy they are leaving and [ask] how will that legacy impact the coming generations with the Gospel.”
Art Ayris, executive pastor of neighboring First Baptist Leesburg, praised the cooperation between Fruitland Park and Heritage.
“In a church age of multiple splits and painful splinters it is refreshing to see churches coming together to reach their communities,” Ayris told the Witness. “Sidney Brock was a great associate here at First Leesburg and we have no doubt he will do a superlative job of presenting Christ to the city of Fruitland Park next door to us.”
There is sadness in the closure of First Baptist Church in Fruitland Park, Driggers admitted.
“But the way we did it also brings joy and a reason to celebrate,” he quickly added. “I am so glad that my church members did not value brick and mortar over the glory of God. I am so glad that they were able to see the value in giving away property that never really belonged to them anyway. It always was and always will be God’s.”
While there is a new sign on the building, Driggers said, “A church of the living God will continue to operate through the facilities. Lives will be impacted and God will receive the glory.”
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